Hello, fellow ‘terraneans. Welcome to the inauguration of Stay Trve. I got to thinking that now, maybe more than ever, there are A LOT of recordings being released. Unless your job involves sitting on the couch all day listening to music, odds are, you and I are missing out on some quality music. Big time. To help counter the audio malaise and near total saturation of the music playing field, I present to you: Stay Trve.
Tacoma, Washington 5 piece Seaweed graduated high school and literally hit the road. Bits and pieces of their ascent are retold in Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records. The band did release their final record Actions and Indications on Merge but the lions share of their discography was handled by Seattle based stalwarts Sub Pop. After several of their first releases did very well on Sub Pop the band were presented with some career options. Do they continue to slug it out on the road in a van, sleeping in dive hotels/floors or do they entertain some of their new major label suitors who were regularly appearing at their performances?
One suitor, in particular, seemed to offer them the financial means in which to quickly upgrade to the confines of a luxurious tour bus in exchange for the rights to release their next record. The band played ball and signed to Hollywood records. The entity that owned Hollywood was none other than Walt Disney. As a result, their pockets were unfathomably deep.
The record which was promised to Hollywood seemed like a logical progression from Four. Altogether more polished (for the mainstream audience) and boasting some of their catchiest arrangements, in 1995 Spanaway was released. It’s hard to confirm or deny as google is a little bitch when it comes to verifying this information, but presumably, the first single was the monumental “Magic Mountain Man.” An anthem if there ever was one. The song became a staple of the band’s live set and has been covered by countless bands. The lyrical themes of living off the grid came from an honest place as in particular frontman Aaron Stauffer often publically lamented such things as electricity.
As is the case with many brainy, broad, post hardcore records, Spanaway flopped upon release. The band never released another record with their new business partner. The living audio document that exists because of this partnership has held up remarkably well and still sounds vital, relevant, and exceptionally well written.
2nd single “Start With” may have been an even better shot at a mainstream breakthrough but much like “Magic Mountain Man” it failed to leave much of an impression. Dig those nineties production values:
Spanaway as a whole has no duds among its 12 songs and single interlude. 3rd single and album opener “Free Drug Zone” is a step up in songwriting savvy from their previous material. Simultaneously driving, punchy, and memorable.
Despite the fact Spanaway was a relative commercial failure, this collection of songs has stood the test of time. The 90’s aesthetic and production has outlasted the chance of growing stale and what remains is an excellent, first rate post hardcore record.